Thomas Cook (India) Ltd, Highly Commended, Best SWIFT Solution

Published: Feb 2018


Photo of Vic Tham, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Amit Baraskar, Thomas Cook (India) Ltd.


TCIL’s customers are very sensitive both to exchange rates and to the cost of a transaction, so the FX business has always been run on the tightest of margins. The new solution needed to adhere to various parameters – larger coverage in terms of currencies catered for, better pricing and faster turnaround time.

Amit Baraskar

Vice President & Head – Treasury

Thomas Cook (India) Ltd (TCIL) is the leading integrated travel and travel-related financial services company in the country, offering a broad spectrum of services that include foreign exchange, corporate travel, MICE, leisure travel, insurance, visa and passport services and e-business. The company set up its first office in India in 1881. The Thomas Cook India Group, spanning 21 countries across four continents, a team of over 198,500 and a combined revenue in excess of US$1.34bn.

in partnership with

Using SWIFT to provide FX solution in just five days

The challenge

As foreign exchange services form a very important and integral part of the business, a review was undertaken by TCIL with regards to the process for handling multicurrency payments.

TCIL’s customers are very sensitive both to exchange rates and to the cost of a transaction, so the FX business has always been run on the tightest of margins. As it searched for a new supplier of multicurrency payment services, TCIL needed to be sure that the new solution would offer better service to its customers without increasing costs, either internally or for the end-user. In short, the new solution should adhere to various parameters – larger coverage in terms of currencies catered for, better pricing and faster turnaround time.

The solution

TCIL decided to go with Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s SWIFT over FX solution, which was implemented by TCIL’s staff and the product team at the bank in just five days. The result has reduced transaction costs, improved FX rates and enabled TCIL to offer a wider range of currencies than ever before, with faster settlement and lower risk.

Best practice and innovation

The TCIL multicurrency payments project is an excellent example of best practice, from the rapid deployment time of just five days to the visible benefits to TCIL and its customers. It went on to deliver substantial improvements both to the product offered to end-customers and to the internal operations at TCIL.

This programme is an outstanding example of a use of the SWIFT network to reduce cost and risk in FX transactions while adding value to an existing process.

What it means to win this award

Thomas Cook (India) Ltd

Winning awards at international as well as national levels has been an ongoing phenomenon for Thomas Cook. However, getting the Adam Smith Award, which is one of the world’s most prestigious awards in the area of treasury means a lot to us and the Thomas Cook team is delighted to get this recognition. The group now spread across 23 countries firmly believes in investing in the best technology and this award not only reassures the company about the high quality of banking products and technological platforms being used by the foreign exchange dealing room but also would give more visibility and confidence to the company’s retail customer who is the end user of the company’s services.

This is a very positive indication of the deep and healthy relationship which the company has with Bank of America Merrill Lynch, its partner in this success and would go a long way in strengthening and deepening this bank-client relationship in the long term.

Amit Baraskar and his team

Not just for me but for my entire foreign exchange back office team, getting this award is akin to taking a big leap in terms of recognition, appreciation and visibility across Asia. After all the hard work (done without looking at the watch – especially relevant due to different time zones) getting recognised by a highly reputed organisation like Treasury Today feels great. We value this recognition and intend to reciprocate in some or other form.

The overall team at Thomas Cook India group treasury is excited to win this award and is now gearing up to work towards other products and services in the area with a clear-cut objective of making a comeback at next year’s Adam Smith Awards Asia.

The speed with which the new solution was implemented kept disruption to a minimum and allowed TCIL to offer an improved product to its customers, all in record time and without interruption to existing processes.

“With the implementation of the bank’s SWIFT over FX solution, the result has been much more than simply an internal process improvement. In short, the new SWIFT over FX solution allows us to offer a significantly enhanced product to our customers at a reduced cost, with a direct positive impact on the company’s bottom line,” says Amit Baraskar, Vice President & Head – Treasury.

Key benefits

  • Same-day FX execution:

    TCIL can now offer same-day execution of FX transactions, where previously trades would often spill over into the next working day.

  • Increased currencies offering:

    The new programme allows TCIL to offer 140 currencies compared to fewer than 100 under the old system.

  • Enhanced FX rates:

    TCIL now has greater flexibility to access and opt for the most preferable rate from the bank; the FX rates that TCIL can offer to its very price-sensitive customers have improved compared to the previous solution.

  • Simpler account structure:

    TCIL does not need to maintain nostro accounts for each currency, generating substantial savings and reduction of resources. Having a simple account structure also enables timely reporting and greater visibility to its cash positions.

  • Reduced costs:

    SWIFT over FX removes unnecessary hedging costs – and the associated risks.

  • Fast implementation:

    Because of TCIL’s existing relationship with the bank, the solution did not require any new digital infrastructure to be built onto the system – it simply allowed the company to use its existing platform for making outward payments through SWIFT.

Key learning points

Winning the Adam Smith Award as well as the award function experience has been a great learning experience as well as an inspiration which is nonpareil. The key learnings are as follows:

  • People dispersed across multiple continents/countries across the globe can work effectively as a team and produce amazing results. (Inspired by the Lenovo global team who were the overall winners for Asia’s top treasury team award).
  • Focusing on technology with customer satisfaction in mind and working with capable partners together as one team can lead to amazing outcomes. The SWIFT solution we came out with was an upshot of all this.
  • It was really touching to see the Treasury Today team valuing the things (both big and small) that treasury professionals across Asia do. It feels great to see the deserving professionals and teams getting recognised for the ideas and the efforts put in by them.
  • Networking with treasury professionals across Asia (even across the globe for that matter) can work wonderfully since there is so much more to learn, discover and implement.

For a treasury professional this is a magnificent experience which can add value which is long lasting.

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